Just a few weeks after release, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman has arrived on VOD. A direct sequel and spiritual follow-up to the 1992 horror movie (also named) Candyman, DaCosta’s film picks up 27 years after the original and stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen) as a young artist who unwittingly reawakens the murderous spirit and unleashes havoc and horror on his loved ones.
If you’re not in the mood for horror, there are still tons of releases new to streaming and video on demand this weekend. We’ve got the latest outlandish Nicolas Cage-starring action film Prisoners of the Ghostland, Netflix’s new spine-tingling fantasy Nightbooks, Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho on HBO Max, Amazon’s musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and lots more.
To help you get a handle on what’s new and available, here our guide to the movies you can watch on video on demand and streaming this weekend.
DaCosta’s 2021 sequel to Candyman recontextualizes the original film in surprising (and critically divisive) ways, imagining the Candyman as less a singular specter and more of a generational trauma conjured by the sacrifice of black people victimized by systemic violence. While the creative ambitions of DaCosta’s film are admirable, the film itself might leave something to be desired for some viewers. From our review,
Like Anthony, DaCosta seems to want to say something substantial with her work. Her Candyman makes broad metaphorical strokes about the larger urban Black experience, but it’s aimed at an oblivious audience that needs didactic storytelling to understand racial politics. The film’s end is particularly muddled, doing more to set up a sequel than to smartly bind together Candyman’s varied, nascent themes. The film is missing out on a cohesive vision, to the point where the audience will spend the entire film waiting for the flashbacks and summaries to end, and for DaCosta’s movie to finally begin. But by the end, she’s only offered a visually stunning homage to the original film. For a director of her talent, that isn’t enough.
Prisoners of the Ghostland
As anyone familiar with Nicolas Cage’s work knows, there’s no such thing as “over-the-top” to the Oscar-winning actor. So when it comes to Prisoners of the Ghostland, a neo-noir western action movie starring Cage as a criminal mercenary named Hero sent to a parallel dimension to rescue a warlord’s granddaughter, it’s really just par for the course for Cage at this point. There’s samurai, gore, and testicle-mounted explosives galore and it absolutely, unequivocally whips. From our review,
Prisoners of the Ghostland is primed for the packed-house, few-drinks-in midnight-movie slot. Presented in the less-than-ideal at-home venue, by nature of virtual Sundance, it’s a delightful love letter to action-movie excess. Like The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending or, more literally, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Sono embraces cartoon nonsense logic in order to whisk Cage to each of the film’s unexpected mile markers. The Governor is American, so obviously he strolls out in all whites and a cowboy hat. The samurai warriors might as well be RPG NPCs engaging in a sword battle set to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle.” A sequence depicting the accident that melted the countryside into a decaying shade of its former self flips across the screen like the pages of a manga. A star who has perfected the mouth-agape, raised-eyebrow “Wut?” face is the glue that keeps all the pieces stuck to the collage.
Where to watch: Available to stream on Netflix
Based on J.A. White’s 2018 horror fantasy children’s book, David Yarovesky’s Nightbooks stars Winslow Fegley as Alex Mosher, a boy from Brooklyn whose talent for telling scary stories attracts the attention of Natacha (Krysten Ritter), a powerful witch who kidnaps young Alex and imprisons him in her magical apartment. Similar to One Thousand and One Nights, Alex is forced to tell a scary story to Natacha every night … or face dire consequences. With no recourse, Alex must join forces with Yasmin (Lidya Jewett), another imprisoned child in order to successfully elude Natacha and find a means of escape. The trailer looks sufficiently spooky and entertaining, as do Natacha’s many outlandish outfits (hot neon pink platform shoes!).
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on HBO Max
The 91-year-old award-winning actor-director Clint Eastwood shows no signs of stopping in Cry Macho, his latest neo-Western drama based on N. Richard Nash’s 1975 novel of the same name. Starring as Mike Milo, an former Texas rodeo star hired by his former boss to travel to Mexico to bring back his errant kid, Eastwood waxes melancholic about the futility of performative “macho-ness” and the bittersweet consequences of life’s choices in the film’s trailer. Cry Macho was originally intended to star Arnold Schwarzenegger, before Eastwood had to step in in light of a controversy that elapsed during production.
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Where to watch: Available to stream on Amazon Prime Video
Adapted from Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s award-winning stage musical, director Jonathan Butterell’s coming-of-age musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie stars Max Harwood as a shy 16-year-old from a blue collar English town who dreams of one day becoming a drag queen. Taken under the wing by their mentor Loco Chanelle (Richard E. Grant), Jamie defies the ridicule of his father, classmates, and teachers to aspire to his dream and in doing so inspire others to recognize and be their truest selves. The musical numbers look fun and the cinematography courtesy of Christopher Ross (Cats) looks lively and inventive. Will everybody be talking about Everybody’s Talking About Jamie by the end of the weekend? Who knows, but never let it be said that I’d ever leave a good pun unwritten.
Lina Roessler’s comedy-drama stars Aubrey Plaza as Lucy Stanbridge, the inheritor of a once-illustrious publishing house now floundering after a string of failed titles. Hungry for a best seller, Lucy resort to Harris Shaw (Michael Caine), a cantankerous alcoholic writer still under contract for one last book. After releasing his novel, Lucy and Harris embark on a promotional tour filled with mishaps, revelations, and plenty of booze. Caine and Plaza make for an unlikely leading duo at face, but it’s not hard to imagine the former’s irascible charm paired with the latter’s deadpan brand of humor could be an entertaining recipe for success.
The Nowhere Inn
Exit Through the Gift Shop meets This Is Spinal Tap in The Nowhere Inn, a mockumentary-turned-psychological thriller drama starring Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) and Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia). Stylized as a concert documentary directed by a fictionalized version of Brownstein herself, The Nowhere Inn looks like a bizarre, self-aware oddity focused acutely at the nature of performance and the disparity between the myth and real lives of musicians.
And here’s what dropped last Friday:
Where to watch: In theaters and available to stream on HBO Max
Halloween is right around the corner, so what better way to prepare than with Saw and Insidious director James Wan’s latest spooktacular psychological horror movie about a woman (Annabelle Wallis) haunted by visions of ruthless real-life murders perpetrated by her imaginary friend? The trailer for Malignant looks absolutely unnerving, with locations melting away into nightmarish tableaus, quick deep-focus zoom shots, a creepy contortionist bodies crawling backwards into dark cramped holes. Wan’s previous work would suggest that we’re at the very least in for a solid horror flick, if not an outright franchise starter. The film itself might be a tad bit sillier than most audiences would expect, though. From our review,
Malignant is a laugh riot, both by design, and when it slows down to be more thoughtful. Its themes of family, abuse, and trauma rarely materialize into something meaningful. But at times, the film places physical anguish on full display with a gonzo sensibility. There’s cartoonish wailing and thrashing, and CGI grotesqueries that resemble winking practical creations. Wan makes a visual meal out of several scenes by sending his Steadicam zipping around the room. Maybe a more serious version of the film existed at some point in the development process, but in the version that wound up on screens, Wan’s unabashed focus on its sillier elements is what makes it worthwhile.
Where to watch: Available on Netflix
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan’s (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) action revenge thriller stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Birds of Prey) as Kate, a highly skilled assassin who embarks on a 24 hour manhunt to exact vengeance on the conspirators who poisoned her before her own untimely demise. Produced by John Wick and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch and featuring cinematography courtesy of Lyle Vincent (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Thoroughbreds), the film looks like a standard riff off of Leitch’s previous work. At least it’s got a scene of a slick neon pink-lit sports car peeling recklessly in-between oncoming traffic and a set piece inside a bizarrely monochromatic Japanese tea room. From our review,
Another unimaginative woman-led action flick written and directed by men who telegraph their twists and lean on flashbacks instead of bothering to write character development, Kate mistakes “Women can kill just as well as men!” for some sort of new idea. It isn’t — not for Netflix, immediately following Gunpowder Milkshake, and not for other studios, with The Protégé and Jolt piling up on each other’s stiletto-clad footsteps over the past few months. The film’s depiction of Japanese culture as insularly obsessed with “honor” and dismissive of outsiders isn’t particularly fresh, either. And Western fetishization of the yakuza as businessmen with samurai swords is getting pretty uninspired as well.
Gunfight at Dry River
Gunfight at Dry River tells the story of the denizens of Dry River, a Mexican border town at the twilight of the Old West stricken by drought and preyed upon by vicious family of cutthroat American prospectors looking to strike gold. But when a mysterious stranger (Fabricio Christian Amansi) comes to town looking to reclaim his father’s lost land, his arrival sparks of chain of events that culminates in an explosive confrontation of blood and gunfire. There’s fierce knife fights, tense shootouts, buried treasure, and ensemble cast made up of Charlie Creed-Miles (The Fifth Element), Michael Moriarty (Pale Rider), Ann Mitchell (Widows), Joshua Dickinson (Redcon-1), and more.